Refs made correct no-call in K-State/Xavier game

When one team (Team A) is up by three points and time is running down, it’s a fairly common strategy to foul the opposing team (Team B) before they can get a three-point shot off to tie the game. That way, they have to go to the free throw line where Team A has a great chance of securing the rebound and closing out the game. If Team B makes both free throws, Team A still has a one-point lead and the ball with just a few seconds left on the clock.

That’s what Kansas State tried to do at the end of regulation last night. When the officials failed to call a foul on Denis Clemente and instead whistled Chris Merriewether for clubbing Xavier’s Terrell Holloway after he had entered the act of shooting a three-pointer, Len Elmore said over and over that the refs missed the first foul.

Here is a video of the highlights from the game. The entire video is worth watching, but the sequence I’m talking about starts at about the 0:35 mark.

Doesn’t look like much, does it? Clemente’s left arm did commit a foul on the front of Holloway’s body, but the view of the officials on the baseline and the near sideline were both blocked and the official behind Holloway and Clemente couldn’t see through Holloway’s body to call the foul. Clemente’s right arm just grazed Holloway’s back, and it wasn’t enough for the rear official to blow his whistle. Elmore reiterated his point as CBS showed the replay a few times, but he didn’t account for the position of the officials.

Two areas in which K-State failed in this situation: 1) Clemente did a poor job of taking the foul. He should have essentially wrapped up Holloway and stopped his progress (without tackling him). He needs to be aware of where the officials are — he should have grabbed around Holloway’s waist with his right hand, turned Holloway’s hip, forcing the ref to make the call. 2) Before the possession, Frank Martin should have told his three smartest players to each go up to an official and explain what they wanted to do. “Sir, we’re going to be looking to foul on the floor when they cross half court.” That way, the refs would be aware of K-State’s intentions and would be looking for the foul.

In his infinite wisdom, Jason Whitlock described the play this way:

Leading by thee points with 9 seconds left in regulation, the refs ignored Clemente’s foul and instead waited 2 seconds and whistled Chris Merriewether for a foul while Xavier’s Terrell Holloway was pulling the trigger on a three-pointer.

They didn’t ignore the foul — they couldn’t see it due to the positions of the different players on the court. You can’t blow the whistle because you think you see something, you blow it because you see it. And what about Merriewether’s bonehead move to foul Holloway in the act of shooting? Once Holloway got past Clemente, Merriewether should have known at that point to let Holloway go without fouling. Instead, he raked him across the arm and sent him to the line to shoot three free throws.

Ultimately, K-State prevailed, and in that sense we’re lucky — if the Wildcats had lost, half of the state of Kansas would be going ballistic this morning.

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Friday morning reaction

Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati Enquirer: We’ll just say Kansas State 101, Xavier 96 in double overtime was among the best NCAA tournament games you’ll ever see. And that’s saying quite a lot. Xavier and Kansas State stole the Madness out from under this event. It’s all theirs now, no arguments. There are only so many threes to be made in the crucible, only so many times to come back from the bottom of the well. It should be enough to say this was among the finest games played in a very long time. Maybe everywhere but Xavier, that is so. It really is too bad one team is going home today. What was your favorite cardiac-arrest moment? Terrell Holloway, calmly draining three free throws to tie the game in regulation? Jordan Crawford’s three from the right wing, with four seconds left in OT No. 1, to tie it again? Or, if you can stand it, Jacob Pullen’s three from the top of the key in OT No. 2, to clinch the longest day? There was a more lonely place on earth than that free throw line at about midnight last night, we’re pretty sure of that. It just doesn’t leap to mind. Terrell Holloway made the free throws. All three of them. Net-net-net, five seconds left in regulation, to tie the game. That was as bloodless an exhibition of basketball as we’re likely to see. At least for the next day or so. The NCAA Tournament is, after all, in the business of topping itself. Regularly.

Jason Whitlock, Kansas City Star: Thursday night, with the Kansas State basketball program on the brink of greatness, fate, bad officiating and a gutsy Xavier squad brought back memories of 1998, Bill Snyder and a football meltdown with a spot in the BCS championship riding on the outcome. From the moment the refs ignored Denis Clemente’s intentional foul at midcourt in the final seconds of regulation, Xavier-K-State felt like K-State-Texas A&M. Your heart dropped, tears welled in your eyes, and anger consumed your body. Fortunately for us, Martin and his Wildcats never buckled, never complained and never wasted a moment feeling sorry for themselves. Kansas State is not a team of destiny. It’s a team of preparation and determination and concentration and resolve. K-State basketball is Frank Martin. It’s a perfect storm exploding at the right time of the year. It’s a team that has refused to make excuses, a team that Thursday night survived a devastating foul call at the end of regulation and found a way to win.

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Report: Xavier’s Sean Miller rejects Arizona’s offer

The University of Arizona can’t catch a break. First, Tim Floyd turns them down and now Sean Miller has (reportedly) decided to stay in Cincinnati.

Xavier’s Miller met with Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood on Sunday about the Wildcats’ open head coaching job but rejected the school’s offer later that night, according to multiple media reports.

Xavier AD Mike Bobinski told’s Andy Katz that he expected to speak with Miller late Sunday or early Monday. He wrote in a text message: “Nothing firm at this moment, but I remain very optimistic that Sean Miller will continue as our head basketball coach at Xavier.”

Miller “has a potential Final Four team coming back next season, loves where he lives, has security and is paid well and has the best job in his league, yet has to decide whether or not this is the right job for him to explore,” Calipari said earlier Sunday.

So who’s next for Arizona? I’m sure the Wildcats would like an established guy in his 40’s (or early 50’s) who could guide the program for the next 10-15 years, but those coaches are hard to come by. Tim Floyd (55) elected to stay with USC, and now Miller (40) has as well.

Monday afternoon update: Sean Miller has accepted the Arizona job.

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